Words of Hope

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and the Department of Homeland Security, there are estimated to be 480,000 immigrants of all ages and genders living without legal status in Georgia in 2010. Georgia is also home to three operating detention facilities housing those apprehended without proper documentation and/or other offenses.

The circumstances of many of the detainees involve weeks awaiting a fate that usually ends in deportation. In some cases, deportation to a country that is unfamiliar, dangerous, without family and without hope of ever seeing U.S. born children again.

The summer of 2013, I was asked by Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) to compile a Bible study for female detainees that would compliment their visitation program called Friends in Hope (FIH)

When volunteers visited the women, the detainees often asked for a Bible study that was participatory. I designed the Words of Hope, 4-week curriculum as a response.

Storytelling using Montessori-based techniques coupled with the Peacemaker’s Circle concept would give the women what they had requested. Using these storytelling techniques with wooden figures and scripted movement with adults incorporates the active learning for which the women yearned. I also adapted the work of Helen Bruch Pearson’s, Do What You Have the Power to Do. Pearson’s book arranges biblical stories of unnamed women who were empowered by their encounter with Jesus.

After being detained, these women lose their identity and become “illegals” with “A-numbers,” the number assigned to a person upon intake, and from then on used to identify them.

With little effort, the director of the FIH program was able to secure volunteers to facilitate these Bible studies. I had the pleasure of training them to walk with these women as they reclaimed their identities in Christ.

Although this was written for undocumented women in detention, I can imagine this being used at a women’s shelter or any other female correctional facility, as well. Really, anywhere women are confined to hopelessness.

Here is the study for your use. It includes a training video for storytelling.  Gray Teaching Rationale & Video A.Gray USE

Adrainne Gray, MAPT/Christian Education degree candidate, Dec 2015, Columbia Theological Seminary www.adrainnegray.com

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